The last surviving original member of the reggae band led by Bob Marley has died at the age of 73.
Bunny Wailer, a percussionist and vocalist for The Wailers, passed away at a hospital in Kingston, Jamaica on Tuesday.
Wailer's death was confirmed by his manager, Maxine Stowe. The exact cause of his death was not detailed.
Wailer, whose real name is Neville Livingston, was one of the founding members of The Wailers, alongside Marley and Peter Tosh. The band was formed in 1963 while the members were still teenagers. The band started as a ska vocal group, a type of Jamaican style music that borrowed heavily from American R&B.
By 1963, several other members joined the band, including Junior Braithwaite, Cherry Smith, and Beverly Kelso. They also added instruments and created a new sound that was slower and "muskier," leading to the creation of reggae.
Early hits by the group included songs like "Rude Boy" and "Simmer Down." By 1973, the group changed their image and style, with the band wearing loose colorful clothes and dreadlocks. The group's 1973 album included hits like "Slave Driver" and "Catch a Fire," quickly becoming part of the so-called roots reggae.
"Peter Tosh was the real militant one, then Bob was the poetic revolutionary humanist. Bunny was regarded as the spiritual mystic," Vivien Goldman, the author of "The Making and Meaning of Bob Marley and the Wailers' Album of the Century," said.
Wailer took the name Bunny when he joined the group. Wailer left the band in 1974 as it was building international acclaim. He reportedly did not like touring and was uncomfortable performing in bars due to his Rastafari faith. Wailer believed that bars were unsuitable venues for the group's spiritual message.
Wailer was born in Kingston in April 1947. He grew up in the village of Nine Mile in St. Ann Parish just off the coast of Jamaica. He and Marley were friends since they were children as they were close neighbors. The two met Peter Tosh through Joe Higgs from the Jamaican band Higgs and Wilson.
After he left The Wailers, which changed its name to Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bunny continued to make music. He released a self-produced album in 1976 called "Blackheart Man." While Marley became a worldwide reggae superstar, Wailer chose to remain in Jamaica.